Police defend response to protests

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Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014 3:48 pm

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Police in Ferguson, Missouri, are defending their use of tear gas and smoke bombs, after another night of chaos in the St. Louis suburb in the aftermath of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Police say officers last night tossed tear gas to disperse a large crowd of protesters after some threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at officers. More than 10 people were arrested.

A police spokesman says it's "scary" for officers dealing with the protests -- who hear gunshots and "don't know where they're coming from."

But the response is drawing criticism. Civil rights activist Al Sharpton says the Justice Department should monitor the way the police are handling the crisis. And President Barack Obama said today that there's no excuse for the use of excessive force by police there. He also criticized police for taking two reporters into custody.

Among those arrested was St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who has been chronicling the protests on social media. He tells a radio station (KMOX) that what he calls the "heavy-handed approach by police" is "escalating the situation." And he says "more people are going to get hurt if this keeps up."

But county Police Chief Jon Belmar says his officers have responded with "an incredible amount of restraint."

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